Arps said the post office hours of operation will be realigned. The
office will be open Monday through Friday from 7:30 to 11 a.m.
and from 1:30 to 4 p.m. The Saturday hours for the office will be 7:30
to 9:30 a.m.
Mount Pulaski residents had received a survey about
what they wanted to see happen with their post office. Arps said the
Postal Service sent out 1,051 surveys and received back 377. Of
those, the large majority said they wanted to see the hours at the
post office realigned. Eight surveys actually indicated they wanted
to see the post office closed.
One member of the audience said that in the survey there was no
option for leaving everything as is, which is what she would have
preferred. Arps said that was because leaving everything "as is" is
not an option for the Postal Service; changes have to be made.
Another person in the group asked why the hours had been changed
and how that would affect the postal carriers and workers. Arps said
the hours were reduced to six to trim costs, but it would still be
an eight-hour job with no changes at all for carriers.
The response came back from the audience that in reality there
wasn't much being trimmed. It was noted that while the noontime
closure was longer than in the past, the post office was opening
earlier. Arps commented on the Saturday hours, but was told that the
post office is already open only two hours on Saturday.
Arp was asked why the post office still was required to prepay
its pension fund. The person asking wondered if being able to stop
that would help the financial position of the post office. Arp said
the prepaid pension program was a big issue. He told the group that
right now the pension fund has enough in its reserves to pay the
pensions of postal workers who haven't even been born yet. He added
that the Postal Service has approached Congress about this, but they
will not be swayed.
Another audience member then confirmed with Arps that the prepaid
pension plan is a big part of the post offices debt issues, and he
confirmed that was true. She then asked what the citizens could do
to help in that area, and he said simply: "Write your congressmen."
Someone else in the group then asked why the Postal Service was
forced to do this. Arps said the rules were written way back at a
time when the Postal Service had large sums of money in their
coffers. He said the Postal Service was very profitable then, and
putting the money into a pension plan made good sense; however,
things have changed.
Arps noted that first-class mail is dwindling thanks to the
Internet. He said email communication, online banking and online
bill paying have eliminated a large percentage of first-class mail.
Reducing hours and eliminating Saturday delivery of first-class mail
makes sense to the post office because the volume is not what it
used to be.
However, some business owners in the group had issues with that.
They voiced concerns over those who do still use traditional mail
services to pay their bills. They told Arps that slowing down the
mail delivery system would slow down their income flow. One person
noted that if people wait until a bill is nearly due to mail in the
payment and the Postal Service delays delivery, by the time the
payment actually arrives at the business, it is late.
Another person in the audience said that in reality the Postal
Service wasn't saving anything by eliminating delivery. She noted
that when first-class mail is not sorted and delivered on Saturday,
then the mail to be sorted and delivered on Monday will increase in
volume and take more time. She took her example a step further and
said that if there were also a Monday holiday involved, then by
Tuesday there would be a massive amount of work to do.
[to top of second column]
The Mount Pulaski city clerk also weighed in, saying the change
in first-class mail would have an effect on the billings she sends
out for the village. She anticipated there would be more delinquent
payments in the future because of the changes in delivery of mail.
Mount Pulaski Mayor Jim Fuhrer also expressed concern for the
senior community, saying the hours may make it more difficult for
them to send and receive their mail. He also noted that there are
some working people who need to transact business such as buying
postage on their lunch hours, and that will not be possible with the
Arps was also asked if Mount Pulaski might be in line to take
over services for some of the surrounding post offices if they
close. He said he didn't know.
He was asked if any of the area post offices, such as Latham or
Lake Fork, was going to close.
He said at this time there are no closures taking place in Logan
He told the group that decisions to close post offices or not are
being made by a committee of postal employees who look at the
community size and consider what is being returned in the surveys.
Arps was asked how these changes would affect rural carriers.
He said the changes would not affect them. He said rural carriers
work under a different program than post office employees. They will
continue to run as they always have.
It was then commented that the only real changes taking place
were in the actual post office building.
Arps said that was correct. He also noted that the lobby of the
post office, where boxes are, will still be accessible 24 hours a
He was asked why the postal service felt a 2.5-hour lunch break
Arps said it was done that way in order to cut the hours of
service to six.
He was asked how much money the Postal Service would save doing
this. And, he said he didn't know.
He was then asked why things couldn't just be left alone. And he
said, "I wish I could answer that."
As the discussions neared an end, Arps was asked how the Postal
Service was really planning on saving money.
He said there are different "categories" of postal workers. As
time progresses, when higher paid postal workers leave, they will be
replaced with postal workers in the lower categories at lower rates
Finally, one audience member asked how the village could go about
appealing the decisions that have been made. Arps said they could do
that on-site with him, and he will take their appeal requests to the
In the end, it appeared that while the post office will remain
open, the changes are not being well-received by local residents and
business owners. After the meeting many stayed behind to talk
one-on-one with Arps about the situation.
[By NILA SMITH]